Lions Monday Playback: Patriots are perfect holiday guest

Allen Park — There aren’t many times when a football team can benefit from having its routine interrupted with a short week of preparation for a game on Thursday.

This is one of those weeks for the Lions.

For where they are, and what they’ve done and haven’t done in the last month, hosting the New England Patriots in the traditional Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field on Thursday comes at a good time. Playing a perennial Super Bowl contender on national television — and with Kid Rock performing at halftime — should add a jolt of inspiration to a Lions team that has had its goals shattered in a three-game losing streak.

The Lions are reeling from losses to the Jets, Bills and Cowboys. It seems like an eternity ago when they had a 20-10 lead over the Jets late in the fourth quarter and there was a very real possibility of having a 5-5 record on Thanksgiving Day.

All of that disappeared, step by agonizing step.

First quarterback Matthew Stafford went out with an injured right shoulder. Then the Jets tied the game on the last play of regulation with one field goal and won it in overtime on another.

After that came road losses to the Bills and Cowboys, sending the Lions to a 2-8 record and last place in the NFC North.

Enter the Patriots, an elite franchise, with certain Hall of Famers leading the way — coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Coach Jim Schwartz expects his team to get a lift from playing at home. The fact that it is Thanksgiving, with a national television audience watching, adds to it.

“A home game, No. 1, is huge,” Schwartz said Monday afternoon. “There’s an energy that goes with our home games. It doesn’t hurt to have those things added — the holiday, the national game.”

Coming up

The Patriots might be the toughest opponent the Lions have faced thus far, and they’re on an upswing with back-to-back victories over the Steelers and Colts.

The Patriots held off a late rally by the Colts for a 31-28 win on Sunday. That made their record 8-2 and tied them with the Jets for first place in the AFC East.

Quarterback Tom Brady is playing at his usual high level. Brady has nine TD passes without an interception in the last five games.

Brady was at his best against the Steelers and Colts, with passer ratings of 117.4 and 123.1 respectively.